Today is my first day back at work after a week in lovely southern Florida. As the greater West Palm Beach area’s streets are…let’s say unfriendly to pedestrians I was forced inside to the warm embrace of television. And that good cable greeted me with open arms! No American broadcaster made me feel more welcome than the vaunted MLB Network. We Canadians don’t know how badly we’re missing out. Sort of.
Here’s the thing with the MLB Network: it isn’t that good. It is a barrage of lists and talking heads generally no different than most all-sports formats. For every Jay Jaffe hit, there is Mitch Williams yucking it up or Kevin Millar existing and drawing a paycheque.
The channel seems to have no major advertisers as nearly every ad is a promo for some other MLBN show. They stretched the Hall of Fame discussion well beyond the point of credulity. As with any sport-specific channel looking to fill 24 hours a day of programming, that is sort of the point.
Which is what makes my criticism of the channel fall a little flat: I watched MLB Network at every single opportunity. I would watch it right this moment if I could. I would step over my own mother for the chance to watch it tonight when I get home.
Clubhouse Confidential, the advanced stats show, is easily the best thing I saw in the week or so I spent walking MLBN. Brian Kenny is a real pro and, despite being a little stern and overly serious, clearly believes in what he discusses. The cognitive dissonance of watching a flashy professional television program casually mention given player’s Wins Above Replacement is overwhelming.
Perhaps the channel would be better during the season but clearly it doesn’t need to be much better to rope in the hardcore viewers like myself. Could it get better? For my tastes, less Jon Heyman point-talking and more other people that aren’t Jon Heyman doing less rumor-peddling.
Of course, we Canadians don’t have direct access to this great and wondrous invention. The benevolent masters at One Mount Pleasant hold the license key that keeps this channel, or a CANCON’d equivalent, from our desperate baseball eyes. They are well within their rights to sit on it until they figure out how to best maximize their revenue. As the American counterpart demonstrates, the addicts will line up around the block.